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Ari Emanuel: Let's change the paradigms in Hollywood

The entertainment industry needs to keep changing. Agent Ari Emanuel layed out how, blaming Google for part of the problem.

Ari Emanuel at D10
Rafe Needleman/CNET

PALOS VERDES, Calif.--"Super agent" Ari Emanuel, co-CEO of the William Morris Endeavor, may ask Facebook fans to finance a new film project, he said at the D10 conference today.

Speaking about one of co-interviewer Walt Mossberg's favorite shows, Friday Night Lights, Emanuel said that a new movie based on the series was coming, and that he "wants to figure out a different mean to raise money for the project."

Emanuel said that he thought that there were about 1.5 million fans of the series on Facebook. Co-interviewer Kara Swisher said, "So, $10 from each Facebook fan?"

"Yeah, that's what I'm thinking," he said. "It's a creative way for people to get vested in the project. I'm thinking about how to do it differently."

He said he thought the budget for the film should be about $15 million. But later he added that it would cost about $25 million to market it.

There are other models, he said. For example, Glenn Beck's new independent online show has 230,000 subscribers paying $10, he said. "That's a model."

But it doesn't scale to mega productions like Game of Thrones. Mossberg complained about having to pay about $120 a month for cable, including a bucket of channels and shows he never watched. Emanuel said, "There's a $100 billion infrastructure in Hollywood for that. It goes down to $40 billion if you do a la carte." With regards to shows like Game of Thrones, "You don't get any of that."

On a smaller scale, Emanuel is involved a bit with Silicon Valley. "We think there are things we could do," he said. "Like Uber. We could do a nonscripted, Taxicab Confessions..." he said.

"Have you talked with them about this?" Swisher asked. "We have," Emanuel said.

The interview tonight with Emanuel got off to a contentious start. Emanuel called on Google, AT&T, and Verizon to step up and get a better control over privacy. These companies allow and enable content distribution, he said, and they could do more.

Coming back to the topic at the end of his interview, he said of Google, "I'd like them to get to the table and negotiate with the studios and to start filtering when people are stealing content from our clients. I don't want to censor anything, but I do believe that with really smart guys they can figure out when things are not being paid for and are being stolen."

Pressed later in another question, he fairly yelled, "They filter child pornography. Because that's not right. That's a bad thing." They should do the same for content theft, he said.

Update: Ari Emanuel has written that he wants to work with technology companies on this issue. "It's time for Hollywood, our government and Silicon Valley to step up and collectively resolve this problem. Let me know where and when and I'll be there," he wrote in a letter run on All Things D.